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  1. Argentinian Politician’s Anti-Plagiarism Bill Plagarizes Wikipedia

    Yo, dawg, we heard you like plagiarism. Well, this anti-plagiarism bill plagiarizes three paragraphs from the Wikipedia article on plagiarism, so you can... Eh, you know the rest. Argentinian statesman Gerónimo Vargas Aignasse suggested a change to article 172 of the of the Criminal Code, (Google Translate here), which would make plagiarism an offense punishable by jail time of three to eight years, and in his five paragraph summary description of the bill, copy-pasted three paragraphs from the Spanish language Wikipedia. In fact, only the first and last sentences are original. He even seems to have left in some of Wikipedia's hyperlinking punctuation by mistake.

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  2. Actual Quantum Computing Performed: “Thousands of times” Faster Than Conventional Computer

    Japanese (who else?) scientists have used quantum calculation to compute a Fourier transform with an iodine molecule.

    From Popular Science:

    Using quantum interference – the vibrations of the atoms themselves – the team was able to run the complete discrete Fourier transform extremely quickly by encoding the inputs into an optically tailored vibrational wave packet which is then run through an excited iodine molecule whose atomic elements are oscillating at known intervals and picked up by a receiver on the other side. The entire process takes just a few tens of femtoseconds (that’s a quadrillionth of a second). So we’re not just talking faster data flow or processing here; these are speeds that are physically impossible on any kind of conventional electronic device.


    Can we still say its cool if we don't understand it at all?

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  3. Wikipedia Book Making Now Available to English Speakers

    Wikipedia's make a book feature PediaPress (not pictured above) has been available to other language Wikipedia's for some time now, but was only available to logged in users of the English Wikipedia. Now, according to the PediaPress blog, any user can collect pages to be printed in gray scale (color is on its way), bound in soft cover (hardcover is coming soon), and shipped out to them within a surprisingly short time period. Costs starts at $8.90, and are based on page count. Judging by a quick perusal of the existing PediaPress catalog, the largest book (Complexity and Dynamics) is about 900 pages, and sells for $40.16, while three volume sets on The Beatles, US presidents, and the EU are going for around $90. But WHY, you ask?

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  4. The Catholic Church is Recruiting Through Facebook

    In the face of dwindling numbers of French priests and an international child abuse scandal that many feel has not been addressed strongly enough by the Vatican, the Catholic Church in France has created a Facebook page as a part of a two-week marketing campaign to "to attract young people to the priesthood." Maybe they should also spend some time preventing the opposite! Hey-oo - Er, sorry. We'll try to keep those sorts of things to a minimum.

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  5. Health Experts Perturbed by Video Game Summer Camp

    The University of British Columbia offers a summer camp program that lets kids play video games for three hours a day, and health experts are now weighing in, even though the program had its inaugural semester last summer.

    The camp offers three hours of play with "Nintendo, Wii, Playstation and other computer games" as well as foosball, ping pong, and a field trip to a local game company to meet designers and learn about jobs in the games industry. And, yes, the kids do play outside every day.

    "Some kids aren't athletic, aren't artistic," camp manager Kyle Cupido says. "This gives them a chance to meet new friends."

    UBC Professor of medicine Heather McKay, who does research in children and exercise, sees it differently.

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  6. James Cameron Developing a 3D Camera for the Next Mars Rover

    NASA's next Mars rover, going by the name Curiosity, is nuclear powered and the size of a small car. If that weren't enough to make you want to ride it around some kind of Weird-West-Martian hellscape, it's also getting a set of 3D cameras courtesy of James Cameron.

    Malin Space Science Systems had already delivered a set of cameras capable of taking high-def color video of both near and far objects, but NASA has provided the funding for Malin to work with Cameron to develop two 3D cameras with zoom lenses.

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  7. Beeblebrox Alert: Researchers Discover Limb Regeneration Gene

    British researchers say that they have located the gene that allows Planarians to regrow limbs, organs, and even heads. Planarians, if you never took care of one in middle school biology, are little water-living flatworms about half an inch long that can completely regenerate after being cut in half. No matter how you do it, you'll wind up with two whole planarians in the end. From The Register:
    Understanding the process completely in worms, according to [Dr. Aziz] Aboobaker, is a necessary prerequisite for making it happen in humans. Another cunning worm trick he wants to get to the bottom of is the method by which the Planarians cope with rogue stem-cells producing defective cells - regeneration gone wrong, after all, in basically cancer.

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  8. Leonard Nimoy Announces His Retirement

    In an interview with The Toronto Sun, Leonard Nimoy has announced his retirement from acting. Though the actor legendary among the sci-fi community for his role in Star Trek, the occasional voice acting credit, and odd affection for the works of J.R.R. Tolkien has taken several breaks from active duty before, he seems sincere that this is a lasting proposition.

    "I want to get off the stage. Also, I don’t think it would be fair to Zachary Quinto,” he says, referring to the actor who portrayed a youthful Spock in last summer’s smash Star Trek relaunch. “He’s a terrific actor, he looks the part, and it’s time to give him some space. And I’m very flattered the character will continue.”

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  9. Wisconsin Declares Its State Microbe: Lactococcus lactis

    In yet another example of real news almost being less believable than The Onion (no really), last week Wisconsin declared that Lactococcus lactis was the official state microbe.

    The New York Times reports:

    “The first time I heard the idea, I thought, I’ve got more important things to do than spending my time honoring a microbe,” said Gary Hebl, a Democratic state representative who proposed the bill which, he says, would make Wisconsin the first state in the nation to grant such a designation. “But this microbe is really a very hard worker.”

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  10. RIAA and MPAA Make Outrageous Proposal, Sit Back, Stroke White Cat

    The United States government is still wrestling with the tricky problem of intellectual property rights in the digital age, and so the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (also known as the Copyright Czar) has asked the big players in intellectual property to submit proposals full of steps the government could take to curb pirates and other copyright infringers.

    The joint proposal from the MPAA and RIAA is, as one might suspect, the sort of thing that wouldn't seem amiss coming out of the mouth of a black clad man with one cataract-filled eye, who sits in a swivel chair at one end of a glossy conference table and strokes a white Persian cat. Once he finishes speaking, his henchmen drag you away from your computer, screaming.

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  11. D. melanogaster, D. melanogaster, Wherefore Art Thou, D. melanogaster?

    Back when I was in AP Biology, we had a lab experiment that involved breeding Drosophila melanogaster for traits. After explaining the months-long fruit fly plague that had swept his classroom the last time he had tried doing the lab with real D. melanogaster, our teacher showed us the web-based simulation that we would be using this year. So, I've never actually spent much time around fruit flies that didn't involve swatting them. But that doesn't mean I don't know how important they are to geneticists! D. melanogaster are well suited to the study of hereditary traits for a great number of reasons, including their fecundity (18 points in Scrabble), short life cycle, and easily determined gender, not to mention that they are extremely easy and cheap to care for. They also have only four chromosomes (pictured above, because I wanted to find a relevant picture that didn't give me the willies). Drosophila researchers are in an uproar, however, over a taxonomic change that may rename the species.

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  12. Pirate Party Helps Seniors Get Assisted Suicide Information Past Australia’s Web Filter

    In anticipation of Australia's internet filter, the voluntary euthanasia organization Exit International has begun to take action.  After realizing that they were on a leaked list of sites that would be blacklisted when the great Australian firewall (not pictured above) goes into operation, Exit International needed to find a way to teach its Australian members how to access their site.

    Fortunately, under Australian law it is still legal to circumvent the filter and to show others how to do so.  But how to introduce 70 year olds to proxy servers and VPN tunnels?  Talk to your local Pirate Party, of course.

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  13. The 5 Scariest Nuclear Accidents

    The National Security Archive blog, dedicated to "informing the public debate through access to declassified documents," has a harrowing post up about a Department of Defense report on military accidents while handling nuclear weapons. Turns out there were 32... before 1980.

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  14. Canadian Supreme Court Will Hear Appeal in Hyperlinking Lawsuit

    The Supreme Court of Canada has decided to hear an appeal in a lawsuit that wishes to prove that hyperlinking constitutes publication, and that hyperlinkers can be thus be prosecuted for defamation. From the Montreal Gazette:

    Vancouver businessman Wayne Crookes... alleges that writer Jon Newton defamed him by linking to reputation-smearing articles in a 2006 post about free speech on his website.
    And isn't it ironic?

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  15. Wanted: AI That Makes Cars Crash, Without Crashing

    'Cause if it crashed all the time, it wouldn't be of much use as a computer program, amirite? ... OK, I'll go turn in my wordplay badge. Researchers at the University of Wuerzberg have held yearly competitions for the best car racing AI since 2008. This year, they are also challenging their contestants to a slightly different kind of contest: Demolition Derby.

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  16. Australian AG Michael Atkinson Resigns

    Attorney General of the state of South Australia Michael Atkinson, shown here being metaphorically attacked by the animated alter-ego of a prominent Australian gamer, has resigned his post as AG as of today. Or, maybe yesterday. Today in Australia. We're not really sure how the International Date Line works.

    Atkinson has drawn much criticism in Australia and from gamers around the world for his stance on mature games. Specifically, his refusal to allow a R18+ rating for games. The Aussie rating system's most mature level is currently MA15+, and anything that is deemed too violent or sexualized for that is considered beyond the system. Since unrated games cannot legally be sold, this effectively bans the game nationwide.

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  17. Mars Conquered by Tumbleweed Rovers?

    Some scientists are looking at Mars exploration from a different angle, and have created two designs which can only be described as tumbleweed-based.

    These spherical machines would be propelled by the carbon-dioxide breezes of Mars. While this method of locomotion lacks precise maneuverability, it makes up for it in speed, distance, and survivability.

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  18. Hackers Exploit Chile Earthquake, Tsunamis to Spread Malware

    We could have seen this coming based on past tragedies like the Haiti earthquake last month, but that doesn't make it any less wrong: hackers are already exploiting the widespread concern over the earthquake in Chile and the threat of tsunamis to infect people's computers with malware and viruses.

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